Results of Investigation into Hand Gestures

By West Point Public Affairs - December 20, 2019


WEST POINT, N.Y. – The U.S. Military Academy announced today it has concluded an internal investigation of the cadets who displayed hand gestures during a broadcast of ESPN College GameDay at the Army-Navy game Dec. 14.

The investigating officer concluded that the cadets were playing a common game, popular among teenagers today, known as the “circle game” and the intent was not associated with ideologies or movements that are contrary to the Army values.

“We investigated this matter thoroughly,” said Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, 60th superintendent, U.S. Military Academy. “Last Saturday we had reason to believe these actions were an innocent game and not linked to extremism, but we must take allegations such as these very seriously. We are disappointed by the immature behavior of the cadets.”

The investigator found that the game was being played in the stands before the ESPN host moved into the crowd. Based on the results of the investigation, those cadets involved will receive appropriate administrative and/or disciplinary actions.

“We develop leaders of character who serve to defend our nation and the American people, and we expect our cadets to lead and live honorably and demonstrate excellence. Leading and living honorably means to act in a professional manner at all times,” Williams said.

The Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. James C. McConville stated, “The United States Military Academy ordered this investigation after reports suggesting racist gestures may have been displayed by cadets at the Army-Navy game. Racist statements, gestures and symbols have no place in our Army. The investigation determined there was no racist intent by cadets. The American people trust our Soldiers to do the right things the right way. We must be mindful of behavior which brings that trust into question and ensure our actions meet the high ethical and professional standards our nation expects the American Soldier to uphold.”

About West Point:
The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is a four-year, co-educational, federal, liberal arts college located 50 miles north of New York City. It was founded in 1802 as America's first college of engineering and continues today as the world’s premier leader-development institution, consistently ranked among top colleges in the country. Its mission remains constant—to educate, train, and inspire the Corps of Cadets so that each graduate is a commissioned leader of character committed to the values of Duty, Honor, Country and prepared for a career of professional excellence and service to the nation as an officer in the U. S. Army. For more information, go to